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Cloud Migration and Strategy Consultants

The challenge

The development and implementation of a successful cloud migration strategy can be complex and difficult to deliver:

  • Difficult to scale beyond POCs or greenfield builds
  • Difficult to upskill and enable staff
  • Complex technologies and new ways of working
  • Excessive focus on cost reduction without clear path for data centre exit
  • Challenge of security in public cloud environments

How we can help

Our Cloud Migration service is designed to help clients address these issues and a multitude of others, by providing a modular approach that can be adapted to your specific goals.

Our focus is on enabling you to accelerate and scale your migration to the cloud, achieve your business goals and do so in a way that is cost effective, secure, scalable and achievable.

We bring unique expertise, frameworks and methodologies, not to mention significant experience and a track record of successful delivery, that make this happen.

Ultimately, our service provides clients with guidance, support, expertise and capabilities that enable:

  • The design, development and evolution of an organisational cloud migration strategy
  • A pragmatic and implementable plan to achieve that strategy
  • Programmatic, technical and operational support to execute
  • Delivery of the key components required to realise the benefits of cloud
Cloud Migration

Airwalk FAQ

Migrating to the cloud unlocks value and efficiency at an unprecedented scale. Before the cloud, ensuring high application availability was a challenge involving multidisciplinary teams. These teams were required to install, monitor, and maintain specialist hardware that depreciated in value and was often superseded with better alternatives during its lifetime.

In the cloud, you have the opportunity to use the latest available features and functionality with on-demand support at a fraction of the cost of the on-premises equivalent. In combination with Infrastructure-as-Code you can quickly build and scale any application and present it anywhere in the world within minutes and can easily manage multiple geographical locations, controlling version upgrades and rollbacks.

A common mantra across cloud providers is you pay for what you use. What this means in practice is that you do not have any sunk costs and you aren’t paying for unused or under-utilised resources. For example, by implementing scheduled shutdown of environments overnight you can halve your running cost for that environment. Extend this to all services that are not required outside of normal hours and the savings increase.

The low barrier for entry into cloud environments unlocks Agile practices and enables experimentation and innovation with no commitment to purchase and maintain hardware. For existing environments, it enables capabilities that are traditionally difficult to scale on-premise, such as temporary environments for test automation and performance testing, again with no commitment to purchase hardware or accumulation of sunk costs, as the environment is disposable and can be terminated or rebuilt at any time (you only pay for what you use).

There are free tools available from the cloud vendors  that can assess your on-premise servers and their workloads. These tools can manage the parallel migration of multiple workloads into the cloud, including any data. For large-scale datasets, data can be seeded first using more free tooling, and thereafter replicated (  synchronously or asynchronously). Typically, any tooling that enables migration into a public cloud is provided free of charge by the cloud vendor. You are then responsible for the cost of any cloud resources generated as a result of the migration.

How long this process takes is dependent on the answers to several key questions:
  1. How much data is there?
  2. How many servers are being migrated?
  3. How complex are the service requirements?  (are any services mission-critical multi-region candidates)
For example, the migration of 1,400 VMs into the Cloud for one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, with a global presence and thousands of services facing off to internal users and laboratories in almost every country around the globe, took a year to plan and a year to execute in accordance with localised service requirements.
 

By applying role-based access control (RBAC) from day one, it is possible to ensure that the target environment is locked down and only accessible to users who require access to perform their roles. By implementing the principles of separation of responsibility, we can easily extend RBAC to the data itself and the certificates and secrets that an application may depend on.

We can ensure that data in transit is encrypted between the source datacentre and the target cloud and, depending on the method used, enforce RBAC so that the data can only be accessed by specified resources (typically a Service Account) until it is ready for consumption by an application or group of users.

Fundamentally the process is the same regardless of the target cloud provider.
  1. Discovery – What are we moving and what does it comprise of?
  2. Planning – Conduct refinement workshops with all subject matter experts. Communicate your target architecture to stakeholders and raise any concerns. Refine! Refine! Refine!
  3. Design – Produce technical collateral in support of the target architecture. Conduct further refinement workshops with SMEs where required.
  4. Governance reviews and refinement.
  5. Set expectations with senior stakeholders – Have we met business requirements? Where and how should we proceed? Discuss change embargoes and any sensitive issues.
  6. Deliver – Start with low-hanging fruit to build confidence for stakeholders and any other participants who are new to the process. Ramp up the velocity according to any order or grouping agreed upon in previous planning stages.

If any part of the migration fails it is important to have the key contributors ready to swarm the problem and identify the root cause. If the root cause is not easily remediated, e.g. a failed SAN or an unknown password – discuss viable workarounds, e.g. transfer the disks to another shelf and try again or work with the vendor to reset the password. In any event, it is prudent to pause at this stage before continuing and potentially stacking up more issues. The decision to pause or continue should be made by a stakeholder who is fully appraised of the risk of pausing or continuing at that specific phase of the migration.

Another common challenge with global migrations is coordinating resources across different time zones. For example, managing a datacentre migration to the cloud from a location in London to a data centre in Frankfurt with satellite offices in the Far East, Europe, and North and South America involves meticulous planning and coordination for related activities to align correctly and happen in the right order.

The most common challenge arises when legacy platforms to be migrated are not designed to operate in the cloud. One of several approaches could apply and would be something that requires evaluation on a case-by-case basis. These approaches are listed below in ascending order of complexity and future supportability:
  1. Rehost    – typically referred to as ‘lift-and-shift’
  2. Refactor – Modify the application to fit the cloud
  3. Rebuild  – Rewrite the application
  4. Replace  – Retire the application and replace it with a cloud native equivalent

By breaking problems and solutions into manageable chunks we make it easier to understand those problems and solutions at the level of detail required to effect a controlled migration.

Ideally, we will conduct the migration side-by-side so that our expert knowledge is shared directly with your in-house teams. Being hands-on and fully involved in the migration is a genuinely educational and rewarding experience for your teams. The opportunity to learn outside of the classroom gives your teams an experience that should not be underestimated.

Alternatively, we can work autonomously but would require involvement from your SMEs and regular checkpoints to ensure we are aligned with your expectations.

During the Discovery phase, we would establish a tiering system for your services and applications according to the risk of business impact; anything that is mission-critical would be migrated later once confidence is high and all issues are resolved. Workloads with lower business importance will be actioned first, to minimise the risk to the business.

Within these tiers there will be another layer of ordering, typically by perceived complexity. In order to build confidence, lower-complexity services would be migrated first, working our way up to the most complex. However, this does not mean that work to migrate more complex services will be delayed; the work to migrate a service may start days or weeks in advance, e.g. when seeding large amounts of data or waiting for the provisioning of resources, for example, by a third party supplier.

Live Service migration isn’t without its complexities, but when managed in the right order, it can be reduced to seconds or minutes (in the case of public DNS changes). For every service and at every phase, we would maintain close communication with your stakeholders and make sure that you understand the risks and impact on your business.

Cloud Migration - the Airwalk approach

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Analysis of existing IT estate

Comprehensive assessment of existing IT estate within the organisation, identifying candidates for migration and proposing a recommended approach.

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Business case development

Formulation of business case for migration of both individual workloads and organisational/business unit level migration programme.

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Target state and strategic roadmap development

Assessment of strategic and technical goals for cloud, definition of target operating model and development of roadmap to achieve this.

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Architecture and technical design

Architectural design for optimisation on cloud, leveraging cloud native and modern technology practices, as well as core architectural principles for the migration programme.

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Governance and delivery framework development

Establishment of risk management and delivery principles to guide migration, including governance, operational readiness and standards for deployment.

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Cloud operating model design

Assessment of existing operational structures, capabilities and ways of working, identifying key opportunities for optimisation for cloud migration.

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Migration factory

Design and delivery of an efficient, self-contained engine for executing cloud migration at scale in an accelerated manner.

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Continuous Security and Compliance Framework

Automated, control-led framework for providing real-time, continuous security and compliance across your cloud estate.

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Service Management

Design and delivery of key service management components required to operate services in the cloud.

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Training and enablement

Development of training and development pathways for client teams to enable effective long-term use of public cloud.

Our Clients

Client Case Studies